Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Poster Guard®, a division of HRdirect and the leading labor law poster service that gets your business up to date with all required federal, state and local labor law postings, and then keeps it that way — for an entire year. Enjoy the article!)
I saw an article recently on CNN talking about the companies that have decided to go fully remote – permanently. It was a good reminder that while many organizations are planning “welcome back to the workplace” events, several are opting to keep remote work as a part of their operation.
It completely makes sense. There are many benefits to remote work. For organizations, there’s a cost savings in rent, utilities, cleaning, equipment, etc. It can also create benefits in attracting talent. For employees, remote work can save money in terms of working attire, commute expenses, and childcare expenses. It can also positively contribute to overall wellbeing. And technology tools are allowing remote workers to still communicate, collaborate, and get work done.
But all this talk about remote work does raise the question, how do organizations communicate with employees when it comes to topics like workplace compliance postings. I know organizations need to be focused on getting the work done, but we also need to make sure all employees know their rights as required by federal, state, and local law.
I had the opportunity to speak with our friend Ashley Kaplan, senior employment law attorney for HRdirect about this issue. Ashley leads the expert legal team for Poster Guard Compliance Protection. Please remember that even though today’s post is sponsored, Ashley’s comments shouldn’t be construed as legal advice or as pertaining to any specific factual situations. If you have detailed questions, they should be addressed with your friendly neighborhood labor and employment attorney.
Ashley, before we talk about the posting requirements for remote employees. It might be good to discuss, in general, the current posting requirements for organizations.
[Kaplan] Sure. All employers must post federal, state, and local (if applicable) postings. The mandatory federal notices that most employers are required to post include:
- Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC)
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
In addition, there could be up to 19 additional state-specific posters, depending upon what state you’re in … and up to 11 additional posters for city/county compliance. Oh, and don’t forget there are additional posters for government contractors and certain industries. The topics for these state, local, and industry-specific postings include minimum wage, fair employment, safety, child labor, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, family/medical leave rights, smoking in the workplace, human trafficking, and more.
For HR pros who just read that list and are saying to themselves, “I have no idea if we have the right posters!” is there a government site that will tell them everything they need?
[Kaplan] Unfortunately, there’s not a ‘one-stop shop’” where employers can get all of the government-issued notices for federal, state, and local compliance. The postings are issued by multiple different government agencies. Very few of the agencies work together, so the only way to ensure compliance is to check each issuing agency’s requirements directly. For federal and state posters, there are about 175 different agencies responsible for issuing more than 400 posters nationwide. Add to that the approximately 22,000 local jurisdictions that have the authority to issue their own postings. That’s a lot of follow-up and unfortunately, these agencies aren’t required to coordinate efforts.
Okay, so potentially HR pros have
several many a lot of sites to check. But do posters really change that often?
[Kaplan] Surprisingly, they do. Our Poster Guard legal team monitors posting changes and has reported a significant increase over the past few years. In 2021, the team tracked more than 200 mandatory poster updates impacting U.S. employers, and this number is expected to increase in 2022 as state and local employment laws continue to evolve at a record pace. Most employers are aware of poster updates relating to minimum wage increases, but other poster changes are just as critical. It can be a challenge to stay on top of all these updates because the government agencies don’t notify employers when requirements change. Also, be aware that mandatory posting changes are issued throughout the year, not just in January.
Honestly, I don’t remember labor law posters being so complex. How do current labor law posting requirements impact remote workers?
[Kaplan] By law, you’re required to provide these mandatory notices to ALL employees. That includes employees who work from home, offsite, on the road, at mall kiosks, in mobile service units, out in the field, at construction checkpoints, and other remote worksites.
Does this mean that HR needs to send remote workers full-size laminated posters to hang in their spare bedrooms/home office?
[Kaplan] No, but it does mean that employees need to receive notices. Although the regulations don’t specify the format — paper or electronic — organizations are responsible for communicating the same information to their remote workers as those onsite. For employees who work on computers as part of their jobs, the most effective way to distribute the posters is through electronic delivery. We recommend using a solution that enables your employees to download, view, and acknowledge receipt of all required postings and posting updates. This satisfies your obligation to communicate their rights, and the acknowledgments provide additional support in the event of a dispute.
That raises another question about what information should an employee receive. If a company has remote employees who work in different states, which posting requirements should they follow? Those from the state where the company is headquartered or the state where the employee works?
[Kaplan] Unfortunately, it’s not always clear which state laws apply in this instance. Most basic employment rights — such as minimum wage, overtime, and safety issues — are governed by the laws where the employee performs the work. However, depending on how your company is structured and the nature of work performed, your out-of-state employees may be covered by both states’ laws. Because it depends on so many factors, we recommend you provide remote workers with access to both sets of state-specific postings in this situation.
What if an organization is offering hybrid work where employees primarily work from home, but they report to the office headquarters occasionally? Do they still need to send posters electronically?
[Kaplan] FAQs published by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) suggest that, if an employee reports to a company’s physical location at least 3-4 times a month, the physical postings at the business are adequate. If not, the USDOL recommends electronic delivery.
Last question. I could hear some people saying, “Labor law posters aren’t a big deal. If we don’t have them, we’ll just get a warning.” What’s the penalty for businesses who are not in compliance?
[Kaplan] Recently, the amount for federal posting fines increased to more than $38,000 per violation, per location. State and local fines typically range from $100 to $1000 each. Government fines can add up, but the real danger is with employment litigation. A missing or outdated posting can impact damages and can even ‘toll’ or extend the statute of limitations. And as your readers know, the statute of limitations can often be an employer’s best friend in defending claims, as this is the defense that allows you to have old claims dismissed and also limits damages in the case of repeated violations or class actions.
A HUGE thanks to Ashley for sharing her knowledge with us. If you want to learn more about how to make sure your posting requirements are up to date, I hope you’ll check out Poster Guard. Today’s technology makes providing remote workers with their postings easy. They also guarantee their work against government posting fines.
Organizations must manage many priorities and compliance is one of them. It’s important to the organizational bottom-line. When employees – regardless of where they work – know that organizations are transparent about their rights, it creates trust and engagement.
P.S. Check out Poster Guard’s latest on-demand webinar on “Labor Law Compliance Requirements Employers Often Overlook”. It’s filled with reminders that all organizations need to Mind the Gap.20